Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What State Takeovers Mean For Our Communities

By Marian Kramer

“In Highland Park, Michigan, the state takeover of our city meant taking away the vote for folks to elect their city officials. It meant the selling off of all of our different assets without the people’s consent, without the vote of the people. It meant the City Council no longer had a decision making role. All decisions were in the hands of the dictatorship of the ‘appointed’ Financial Manager. The Financial Manager only adhered to the Governor and whatever board the Governor set up. It meant there were a bunch of layoffs. We operated with a bare minimal. They contracted out a lot of the work. We only had one or two inspectors for the whole city. They said we were broke, but millions of dollars went out to private contractors. They shut down the only public library in the city. They tried to privatize the water but we won that back. They were going to privatize the management of the water with 80% of profits going to the management company and 20% to the city of Highland Park. It meant that the citizens of Highland Park would be responsible for any financial needs for fixing equipment, etc., not the management, although they were making 80% of the profits. The whole process shows that government and the corporations work hand in hand today and the form of rule in America is not democracy for the people.”

Marian Kramer is co-chair of the National Welfare Rights Organization